Getting together, keeping oneself informed, equipping oneself
The SalonThe Salon de la photo proudly presents a retrospective of the work of Raymond Cauchetier, humanist photographer and emblematic figure of Nouvelle Vague film set photography
Born in Paris in January 1920, he later came back to live in the apartment where he was born.
1951 In the army, he was based in Saigon where he managed the Air Force press services, then travelled around Indochina where his general decided he should be a photographer, making a photo album for air force personnel. He took part in all the major missions, and General de Gaulle awarded him the Légion d'Honneur. Demobilised in 1954, he remained in Indochina, photographing cities, people and landscapes. He discovered Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
1957 was the year he won recognition in Japan, where he was hailed as one of the major photographers of his time, and in the United States, where an exhibition organised by the Smithsonian Institution, Faces of Vietnam, travelled around the country for several years. He then returned to Angkor where he received a telegram from the film producer Marcel Camus asking him to take photos for his film Mort en Fraude. This was at the start of the Nouvelle Vague. He became a film set photographer, working in particular with Jean-Luc Godard. He made what must be the most famous image of Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo on the Champs-Elysées in Breathless. He then worked on Lola, Jacques Demy’s first feature film, Adieu Philippine by Jacques Rozier, Jules et Jim by François Truffaut, Landru by Claude Chabrol and other films.
He stopped working on film sets in 1968 and edited a photonovella series published by Dargaud entitled Bonjour Bonheur. This medium was very popular at the time.
1967 Norodom Sihanouk, king of Cambodia, invited him to photograph his country with the idea of launching a major tourism promotion campaign. He then worked with the publishing house Rizzoli, which commissioned a series on the world’s great monuments.
2005 An exposition entitled Saigon 1955/Ho Chi Minh Ville 2005 drew a parallel between pictures by Raymond Cauchetier and more recent photographs taken by the Vietnamese air force. The installation, in one of the city’s parks, was seen by over a million people in three months.
An agnostic and yet a fervent admirer of the spirituality of medieval art, he was also a member of the Société Française d'Archéologie, travelling through Europe since 1973 to photograph little-know major romanesque sculptures. He produced what is no doubt the greatest collection of pictures on this subject.
Self-taught and free-lance, Raymond Cauchetier spent his life photographing what he wanted and invented his own style. He remains a truly exceptional figure in the history of photography.